Posts Tagged: President Michael Drake
On Dec. 10, the President's Advisory Commission on Agriculture and Natural Resources met in the San Joaquin Valley, gathering in person for the first time since December 2019. The group followed strict COVID-19 safety protocols, but that did not interfere with the energy and excitement of the discussions and activities.
Commissioners, UC President Michael Drake and local dignitaries began the day-long event at Lindcove Research and Extension Center (LREC) in Exeter to learn about the latest citrus research, see the packline in action and sample many of the varieties of citrus made available during Lindcove's public citrus tasting on Dec. 11.
Lindcove's greenhouses, orchard and packline are used by researchers for a variety of studies, including developing new citrus rootstocks and scions, evaluating environmental effects on rootstock and scion combinations, screening seedless varieties of mandarins, detecting freeze damage of fruit, and analyzing chemical treatments for pests and postharvest diseases.
Lindcove REC director Ashraf El-kereamy gave an overview of the facilities and discussed research and breeding highlights, including LREC housing the first structure in California to grow Citrus Under Protective Screen (CUPS). UC Cooperative Extension Specialist and Director of the Citrus Clonal Protection Program Georgios Vidalakis discussed LREC research in huanglongbing disease, which is a major threat to citrus worldwide. Curator 4 and Givaudan Citrus Variety Collection Endowed Chair Tracy Kahn showed some of the many varieties that participants would be tasting and invited people to explore the orchard.
The outdoor tasting tables offered a feast of color, smell and taste with 180 varieties to choose from, and commissioners and other attendees were given boxes of produce as parting gifts.
The group next explored Woodlake Botanical Gardens with UC Master Gardener volunteers who care for the three-acre rose garden. They also met with emeritus UC Cooperative Extension Small Farms Advisor Manuel Jimenez and his wife Olga, who oversee the Botanical Gardens and engage youth volunteers in gardening. They founded a program to help keep young people out of gangs and to teach skills and habits that prepare them for college or jobs. Attendees were impressed by the youth volunteers who spoke about the positive impact the garden and the Jimenez family have had in their lives.
At the Tulare County Cooperative Extension office, participants enjoyed a farm-to-table lunch showcasing local produce, heard remarks from VP Glenda Humiston and President Drake, and participated in interactive displays by researchers and programmatic staff:
- 4-H staff members Rochelle Mederos and Tyler Beck presented a slime making booth
- Citrus advisor Greg Douhan had microscopes to show a variety of citrus pest damage
- Farm advisor Elizabeth Fichtner offered olive oil tasting with three different oils and showed a video on the pomology program
- Nutrition educators prepared a low-calorie oatmeal cookie tasting with an option to vote on the best one
- Cristina Barrick-Murillo, agricultural land acquisition academic coordinator, showed maps of the north and south valley for all to pin a location of their choosing
- Farm advisor Ruth Dahlquist-Willard and Michael Yang, small farms and specialty crops Hmong agricultural assistant, displayed an array of specialty produce grown in the San Joaquin Valley
- Nutrient management and soil quality advisor Joy Hollingsworth showcased soil samples
- Farm advisor Nicholas Clark showed drone footage of agronomy field work
- Karl Lund, area viticulture advisor, offered wine tasting from UC viticulture research
- Farm advisor Konrad Mathesius offered a tasting of beer made with California-grown barley
After so many months of interacting on Zoom, it was a delight to get together to learn about and experience the amazing work that's being done in Tulare County to improve the lives of Californians. President Drake even joked about talking for too long during lunch because it was his first appearance at a lectern in a long time.
County Director Karmjot Randhawa and county and LREC staff – as well as Sherry Cooper and the Program Support team – worked tirelessly to make the event a huge success. We just cannot thank them enough!
UC ANR's strategic planning team presented both the new 2020-2025 Strategic Plan and the 2020-2025 REC Strategic Framework to President Michael Drake on Feb. 2, 2021. His comments were generally very positive. A few minor edits were made to the UC ANR Plan following the meeting to further clarify the relationship between this “operational” plan and our systemwide public value statements and condition changes. The new plans will be posted to the UC ANR website later this month.
Thanks again to the ANR community for providing ideas to the ANR strategic plan during the four input sessions and via the survey. Notes on the ideas gathered will also be available on the web page where the final plans will be posted.
President Drake listens as UC ANR’s strategic planning team presented new 2020-2025 Strategic Plan and the 2020-2025 REC Strategic Framework.
UC President Michael Drake and UC regents were treated to virtual tours of UC ANR similar to the tour taken by legislators on Nov. 20.
On Dec. 2, UC regents Charlene Zettel, Cecilia Estolano and Richard Lieb, alumni regent Debby Stegura and Anne Shaw, secretary to the regents, took a 90-minute tour via Zoom. They were joined by members of the UC President's Advisory Commission Corinne Martinez, Connie Stewart, Paula Daniels and Stuart Van Horn.
On Dec. 8, President Drake was joined by UC regents Michael Cohen and Hadi Makarechian, student regent Jamaal Muwwakkil, alumni regent Eric Mart, regent-designate Cheryl Lott and student regent-designate Alexis Atsilvsgi Zaragoza.
In introducing the virtual tour, VP Glenda Humiston explained that UC ANR does much more than they would see that day. “This is just to pique your interest,” she said.
Before the tour, “learning boxes” containing samples of almonds, smoke-tainted wine, moringa powder, California grown coffee and many other items related to the presentations were shipped to the participants to give them a more interactive experience.
For example, while discussing the impact of wildfires, Stephanie Larson, livestock range management advisor and director of UCCE in Sonoma County, invited the participants to reach into the learning box for the two small wine samples to taste first the regular wine, then the wine made from grapes exposed to wildfire smoke to see if they could detect the smoke taint. Another popular item was the Shot Hole Borer ID kit which included a real (dead) shot hole borer in a vial with a magnifying glass and damaged wood sample.
During the presentations, tour participants were encouraged to write their questions in the Chat feature of Zoom and presenters followed up with information. They also engaged with questions and conversation at points during the tour.
The regents said they were very impressed with the work that UC ANR does. They urged UC ANR leadership to tell more people about UC ANR programs and let urban legislators know that the programs affect all 40 million Californians, not just rural communities.
At the end of the tour, Humiston said, “This is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more research going on.” She invited them to see more of UC ANR on actual field tours when coronavirus restrictions ease.
President Drake said he liked seeing the connection between globally important issues such as wildfire, climate and carbon soil sequestration and UCANR research. “It's good to know we're actively involved. Thank you for your hard work and contributions.”
Presenters included Missy Gable, director of the UC Master Gardener Program; Jim Farrar, director of the Integrated Pest Management Program; Greg Ira, director of the California Naturalist Program; Lorene Ritchie, director of the Nutrition Policy Institute; Kamal Khaira, director of CalFresh Healthy Living, UC; Cecilia Arellano Ibarra, former CalFresh Healthy Living, UC Youth-led Participatory Action Research participant and UC Davis sophomore; Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty, director of the 4-H Youth Development Program; Alexis Peña, senior at Buhach Colony high school and past Juntos 4-H program participant; Francisco Salazar, UC Merced student and past Juntos participant; Jhalendra Rijal, area IPM advisor; Ashraf El-Kereamy, UCCE specialist and director of Lindcove Research and Extension Center; Ruth Dahlquist-Willard, small farms advisor; Mike Mellano, third-generation flower grower in San Diego County, UC President's Advisory Commission member and California representative for the Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching; Betsy Karle, dairy advisor; Yana Valachovic, forestry advisor and UCCE director in Humboldt and Del Norte counties; and Larson.
Behind the scenes, many people contributed to the tour's success.
The story map framework of the virtual tour was introduced and supported by Shane Feirer and Robert Johnson of the Informatics and GIS Program, then Kathy Eftekhari, chief of staff and Anne Megaro, director of government and community relations, created the story map working with the 16 presenters to develop content. Ricardo Vela, manager of News and Information Outreach in Spanish edited most of the videos. Many people helped to assemble and ship learning box items, including 4-H members who sewed more than 40 COVID-19 masks as samples of their work in civic engagement.
A self-guided version of the virtual tour will be posted online in the new year.
UC President Michael Drake attended his first meeting with the President's Advisory Commission on Agriculture and Natural Resources (PAC) on Sept. 30. Vice President Humiston, PAC Chair Jean-Mari Peltier and PAC members welcomed the ophthalmologist and former UC Irvine chancellor Drake home to UC and shared their excitement about the future of UC under his leadership.
After a series of presentations to provide Drake with perspectives on California agricultural and environmental issues and the role of UC ANR, he graciously stayed overtime to address members' questions and comments. Participants learned more about his background and his commitment to the university's role in addressing key agricultural, environmental, health and safety, and social justice issues. From his love of farm visits to his interest in carbon sequestration, it was clear that his leadership will bring exciting things to UC ANR.
California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross gave a presentation on California agriculture and CDFA's critical and valued partnership with UC ANR.
Six PAC members shared their experiences with UC ANR engagement in issues they face in the field:
- Mike Mellano, chairman of the Board and VP of Farming, Mellano & Company, discussed his third-generation family farm's reliance on UC Cooperative Extension partnership and agricultural research.
- Ashley Boren, chief executive officer of Sustainable Conservation, shared insights about the importance of UC ANR's work in natural resource conservation.
- Rancher Dina Moore of Lone Star Ranch focused on UC ANR's vital role in working with ranchers on livestock and timber management.
- Lon Hatamiya, president and CEO of The Hatamiya Group, shared insights on UC ANR's role in agricultural technology innovation.
- Celeste Cantu, vice chair of the San Diego Water Quality Control Board, discussed the important role of UC ANR and UC Master Gardener volunteers in addressing urban issues.
- Grant Davis, general manager of the Sonoma County Water Agency, covered UC ANR's contributions to and valued partnership in water resources management.
UC Riverside Chancellor Kim Wilcox provided an overview of the UC ANR Governing Council and the division's partnerships with campuses.
Deans David Ackerly (UC Berkeley College of Natural Resources), Helene Dillard (UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences) and Michael Lairmore (UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine) shared updates on current news, issues and challenges on their campuses.
To watch the recording of the PAC meeting, visit https://youtu.be/ED5lbF61F_g.
10:10-10:30: California Agriculture and CDFA's Partnership with UC ANR – Karen Ross
10:30-11:00: UC ANR Engagement with Issues in the Field
-Farming and Ag Research – Mike Mellano
-Natural Resource Conservation – Ashley Boren
-Livestock and Timber – Dina Moore
-Innovation and Ag Tech – Lon Hatamiya
-Urban Issues and Volunteers – Celeste Cantu
-Water and Local Agencies – Grant Davis
11:00-11:05: UC ANR Governing Council and Partnering with Local Campuses – Kim Wilcox
11:45-12:00: Campus Updates from AES Deans
California is constantly being challenged by pest invasions, obesity, labor shortages, water scarcity, food insecurity, climate change and more. To accelerate the development and adoption of technologies that address these challenges and advance food, agriculture and natural resources in California, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and AgStart will receive a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to cultivate the Verde Innovation Network for Entrepreneurship (the VINE).
Like a grapevine, the VINE will connect existing clusters of innovation across California and link entrepreneurs with mentors, advisors, collaborators, events, competitions, education and other services to turn good ideas into products and services people can use.
“We want to make sure every Californian has the support system to take a novel idea and commercialize a new product or start a new business,” said VP Glenda Humiston. “They don't have to be a university inventor, they could be a farmer or a young person.”
AgStart itself was established with an EDA i6 Challenge grant to assist agriculture and food technology entrepreneurs in the Sacramento Valley region. Since 2012, AgStart has supported more than 58 entrepreneurs and their companies.
“In 2016, of the 16 entrepreneurial companies that AgStart assisted, eight resided outside our region, and leveraged AgStart's program to make connections into our Sacramento Valley region,” said John Selep, president of AgTech Innovation Alliance, AgStart's sponsor.
“The VINE will expand this AgStart model of connecting entrepreneurs to the resources they need to be successful, to enable entrepreneurs residing anywhere in California to connect to the clusters of resources, contacts, mentors and potential partners that have emerged across the state,” said Selep.
“There are many wonderful regional innovation hubs in food, agriculture and natural resources so we plan to bring value by amplifying their efforts, connecting regions and organizations into a more cohesive ecosystem, and bringing value-added resources that ultimately benefit all Californians through the innovations affecting our economic prosperity, food supply and environment,” Youtsey said.
UC Cooperative Extension specialists and advisors, who work in every county, can provide insight into real-world conditions that entrepreneurs should consider in the development stage. UC ANR's nine research and extension centers can provide locations to field-test products and demonstrate their effectiveness. For example, start-up Blue River is testing its technology by flying a drone over sorghum crops to collect data at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier.
For the last two years, UC ANR has hosted the Apps for Ag hackathon and has introduced the winners to mentors, tech industry advisors, farmers, funders and legal experts who can advise entrepreneurs on business structure.
The VINE, which is working with UC Davis Innovation Institute for Food and Health and Valley Vision, is being structured to complement other efforts to establish food, agriculture, and natural resources incubation and innovation resources in cluster locations around the state, such as the BlueTechValley Regional Innovation Cluster, the Western Growers Innovation & Technology Center, UC Merced's VentureLab and others.
Youtsey and Selep are seeking more VINE partners with expertise across the business spectrum.
“If our vision is successful, the VINE will make California the most fertile region in the world for entrepreneurs in ag and food technology to establish themselves, to prosper and grow,” Selep said.